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Boston Marathon bombing suspect's in-laws on attack, media attention: 'This is overwhelming'

Tamerlan Tsarnaev smiles after accepting the trophy for

Tamerlan Tsarnaev smiles after accepting the trophy for winning the 2010 New England Golden Gloves Championship in Lowell, Mass. Tsarnaev, 26, was identified by authorities as one of the Boston bombings suspects. Credit: AP, 2010

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. -- The mother-in-law of the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Saturday decried the family's connection to the terror attack and ensuing media onslaught.

"This is overwhelming," said Judith Russell, as she ferried Target bags filled with groceries from her car into the house about 12:30 p.m., in an upper-middle class cul-de-sac less than 20 miles south of Providence.

Russell, a nurse whose eldest daughter, Katherine, was married to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, spoke briefly and declined to answer questions about the bombing suspect, who was killed in a shootout with authorities on Friday in Watertown, Mass. She said the situation has been "difficult" for the family. Asked whether her daughter is doing OK, she said, "Yeah, you know, in a sense."

She referred questions to Amato A. DeLuca, a Providence attorney hired to represent the family, who told Newsday that Katherine is "with her mom" and her 2-year-old daughter, whom she had with Tsarnaev. "It's absolutely shocking for them to be caught up in this," he said. "It's quite devastating."

DeLuca said there was "no indication" Tsarnaev could have had terrorism leanings -- "none whatsoever." He said he could not comment on allegations of an earlier domestic violence incident between Katherine and Tsarnaev, who he said had lived together in Cambridge with their daughter until his death. It was not clear Saturday when or if Tsarnaev's body would be released to his family.

Neighbors in Rhode Island described the Russell family as normal and friendly, and said the community is shocked by the family's connection to the suspect in the two bombings that killed three people at the April 15 running of one of the country's most storied races.

Earlier Saturday, three cars sat in the home's driveway. Two large dogs on the front lawn barked at approaching reporters, and several neighbors declined to comment.

Pamela King, who lives two doors away, said Judith Russell is a nurse and Tsarnaev's father-in-law, Warren Russell, is a doctor. King said she had never seen Katherine. But she said the Russells' younger daughter Anna baby-sat King's daughter a few times about three years ago.

The family was "normal . . . It is unbelievable," King said. "It's just so surreal."

Cailyn Mather, a neighbor, said the Russells lived there when her family moved to the street six years ago. She said she did not know and had never seen Katherine, but she knew her sister, who sometimes hung out with her younger brother. "They seemed pleasant," said Mather, 20, a college student. "If they were outside when we were driving by, they would wave."

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